It’s a no brainer that social media is today’s new store front for brands, and if their window (instgram feed) isn’t up to par, no one will invest in them. While most brands have embraced social media, a large percentage are using the platforms incorrectly.

Banks, for example, are often the worst social media offenders. A friend of mine, a social media editor at a large Canadian bank, spends her day writing and scheduling Tweets for 6 months into the future. And the bank doesn’t even have an Instagram account!

Whether your organization is just sprouting a social strategy, well underway with your growth, or in the process of updating your strategy, these are the mistakes you need to avoid to protect your brand reputation on Facebook and Instagram.

Don’t Buy Your Followers

If you think the way to grow a following on your social media accounts is to buy followers you’re completely wrong. The main issues with purchasing followers is there will be unauthentic engagement if any, and an audience full of bots or people completely outside of your target demographic.

Unfortunately it’s no longer 2013 so it’s no longer common for brands to get a repost by a popular social media influencer and wake up the next morning with 10,000 new dedicated followers. Social media is now overly saturated with content and has a major authenticity rader, so instead of buying an audience, you need to:

  • Create a thoughtful strategy
  • Set smart goals
  • Share great content
  • Engage your audience.

Stop Producing Ugly Content

Everything about social media is visual so either get creative or get out. Research shows that editing your Instagram photos and videos increase engagement by more than 45 percent. Recruiting a photographer, videographer or graphic designer is integral to your brand’s social face.

Here are the basics:

  • Never edit your photos in instagram. Use an editing app like VSCO, Afterlight or if you’re a real pro – Adobe Lightroom.
  • Find a good light. Always try to take it outside or have the subject face a window.
  • Pick an esthetic and stick with it. Whether that be flat-lays, graphics or specific colour scheme find what works for you and keep it consistent.
  • Don’t over edit. Keep it clean, creative and engaging.
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A perfect example of an interior photo taken from @thechalkboardmag.

Pay Attention to Growth

Monitoring the numbers of your social media platforms is a very important part of your social media managing. Instagram, Facebook and Twitter make it so simple. You can see all the growth, the most active times and through trial and error you’ll get a sense of what your audience connects best with.

Keep Your Eye On:

  • Follow the numbers, if it drops or grows
  • Likes and Comments
  • Most popular hashtags
  • Click-through rates for the URL in your bio
  • Mentions and Tags
  • Frequency of posting
  • Audience demographics
  • The times in which you get the most engagement
  • The success rates of social media ads

Use Instagram and Facebook Insights to monitor success. Doing so will help you stay on the right track or indicate that a change needs to be made.

Overly Promotional

Social media promotion is just as annoying as ads before a Youtube video. Constantly shoving your business in people’s faces via social media is off-putting and a surefire way to lose your audience. Posting only images of your own product is not only boring but uninteresting and unauthentic. Instead have the focus of your social content on the values of your brand and engage your audience by telling a story rather than just selling a product.

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Thoughtless Captions

A great caption is the perfect complement to your social posts. They give your content context and generate emotional responses. See our interview with social media star Suburban Faux-Pas to see her thoughts on captions!

It’s been said in the psych world that evoking certain emotions can help increase the chance of a message being shared.

Keep these pointers in mind when putting your words together wisely:

  • Start the Caption off with The Most Important Words.
  • Engage Your Audience With Questions, Call the Actions and Tagging Accounts You’d Like to Connect With.
  • Use emojis!

Taking For Granted Hashtags

Ninety-one percent of Instagram posts contain between one and seven hashtags, making it clear that the power of a hashtag is stronger than you think, when used correctly! Misuse of hashtags include overuse, underuse and using irrelevant hashtags.

Hashtags are a tool for discovery, they allow users to find topics of interest and other users with simpler interests. However you don’t want to be hashtag heavy to the point where you devalue your content, think strategically and search top hashtags to prepare for your next post. To contrary belief, it’s not uncool to use hashtags, you’re ultimately losing out on a future audience by leaving hashtags out completely.  

Not Engaging With Your Community

The same amount of time and effort that you put into posting on your brand’s social media accounts should be spent on connecting with and analyzing your online community.

It’s integral to build meaningful relationships with your followers.

  • Follow other relevant users, whether that be people in your area or those in a similar industry or ones that have similar interests.
  • Take time to respond to your followers comments and questions.
  • Share user made content regularly, and always remember to credit the creator.  
  • Have in person events and invite your social community.
  • Ask (and answer) questions and make them feel heard.

Missing Out On Ads

Approximately 120 million Instagram users visit a website, get directions, call, email or direct message a business every month from the app.

With Instagram ads this business opportunity has been taken to the next level. After running an Instagram ad campaign, over 70 percent of businesses saw a significant lift in online conversions. Instagram ads is the ideal place to connect with future customers.

There are four main types of Instagram ads to fit your content: Photo Ads, Video Ads, Carousel Ads, and Stories Ads. This allows you to be creative with your ad to ensure that it gets the attention it needs.

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Take Advantage of Stories & Going Live

Social Media stories and going live have taken over Instagram and Facebook. Over 200 million Instagrammers use Instagram Stories daily, and one in five Stories receive a direct message from a viewer. This is the perfect tool to us to share more content, stream events and come face-to-face with your followers. See how Katy Perry used stories for her own brand. Going live is the future of experiential events and television broadcasting and a perfect way to communicate a message. Follow these steps when sharing a story or going live.

  • Tell a story. They’re called Instagram Stories for a reason. This a platform for short and interesting content. For example, you could share a step-by-step recipe, showcase an, or stream a live Q&A.
  • Be authentic. Keep the content hear real to what your brand represents  
  • Provide value. While you want to keep your content authentic, you also want to ensure you’re actually providing value to your audience and not wasting their time. Always make sure your audience has a takeaway and what you’re producing contributes to your original social media goals.
  • Get creative. Don’t be afraid to make such quick content exciting use filters, stickers, text, drawing tools, and tags. This way people will be on the lookout for your next piece.

A version of this story was originally published on Hootsuite.com

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